In general terms, a statute of limitations is a law that sets the maximum amount of time the parties have to initiate legal proceedings from the date of an occurrence. Generally, in Massachusetts the statute of limitations for breach of a non-insurance contracts is six years. However, in the case of claims which arise under a homeowner insurance policy, the statute of limitations is only two years pursuant to Massachusetts Law, Chapter 175, Section 99.
While this may seem to be a minor point, the significance of this is that, in most circumstances, once two years have passed since the date you suffered a loss on your property, you lose the right to sue your homeowners insurance company if they have breached the insurance contract.
As with many laws, there is an exception to this time limit with respect to homeowner insurance claims. While we will not go into great detail in this post, the exception occurs where the parties have filed for a Reference and the Reference panel is in place prior to the two-year anniversary. If you have suffered a loss and are looking for more information concerning Reference, please see our post here, or watch our video.
Please note that the mere fact that an insured may have demanded reference may not be sufficient to protect the homeowner against the two-year statute of limitations. Generally, if the insurance company or the insurance adjuster tells you, as the homeowner, not to worry about the two-year statute of limitation, that alone may not be sufficient to protect you against the two-year statute of limitations. The same is true if they send you an email or text message as you need to take additional steps to protect yourself and your claim from the limitations period running.
If you are coming close to the two-year statute of limitations of your home or property loss, please consult with an attorney who is familiar and experienced with homeowner insurance policies and claims to advise you on your legal rights and offer you alternatives to protect those rights.
DISCLAIMER: This and other segments posted on this website are offered for informational and discussion purposes only and is not offered as legal advice. This office only represents homeowners and property owners. We do not represent insurance companies. The information contained in this segment should not be considered to be legal advice.